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Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds


tengen
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Me and my friend talked one day for a long time about Guru's and games and why people believe in Gurus. A lot of these ideas came from EST.

 

Basically everything in life is a series of games with associated rewards. A guru is someone who gets other people to play his games. The question is why would anyone ever believe in the game and play by its rules?

 

The answer is that once a game is setup it establishes a hierarchy with a set of rewards. And if you play the game you can ascend to the top of the hierarchy and get rewards. So it makes sense to believe in the game and the associated rewards and play by the rules because you can directly benefit from this as long as enough people are playing.

 

But interestingly, the games themselves are powerful. Because they organize humans together as a group. And organized, directed groups will tend to beat disorganized groups without direction.

 

Humans may therefore by predisposed to believe in irrational games like religion because those humans that didn't were exterminated by those that did. The organized conquered and slaughtered the disorganized. This implies that humans will tend to believe in a lot of stupid things as long as it allows them to be part of an organized system they can fit into and a set of rewards that will benefit them.

 

Of course games that have provide greater benefits because they add greater value will tend to beat other games in the long run. This explains why capitalism and science are slowly crushing religion. Capitalism and science of course being the new games we play.

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Quite interesting. I remember something similar from the book Sapiens.

 

Me and my friend talked one day for a long time about Guru's and games and why people believe in Gurus. A lot of these ideas came from EST.

 

Basically everything in life is a series of games with associated rewards. A guru is someone who gets other people to play his games. The question is why would anyone ever believe in the game and play by its rules?

 

The answer is that once a game is setup it establishes a hierarchy with a set of rewards. And if you play the game you can ascend to the top of the hierarchy and get rewards. So it makes sense to believe in the game and the associated rewards and play by the rules because you can directly benefit from this as long as enough people are playing.

 

But interestingly, the games themselves are powerful. Because they organize humans together as a group. And organized, directed groups will tend to beat disorganized groups without direction.

 

Humans may therefore by predisposed to believe in irrational games like religion because those humans that didn't were exterminated by those that did. The organized conquered and slaughtered the disorganized. This implies that humans will tend to believe in a lot of stupid things as long as it allows them to be part of an organized system they can fit into and a set of rewards that will benefit them.

 

Of course games that have provide greater benefits because they add greater value will tend to beat other games in the long run. This explains why capitalism and science are slowly crushing religion. Capitalism and science of course being the new games we play.

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I'm not a fan of this discussion, and it comes up so much here because of statements from Buffett/Munger...IMO there are so many factors at work, it is so situational...it's easy to say, "ahhh of course, reason evolved to navigate group decision making, not to always remain purely logical, that is why people do XYZ."

 

This is one part of the article that bothers me:

 

If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.

 

I mean, what a jump to go from groupthink to why Trump was elected. I understand it's exaggeration for effect, but when you're writing an entire article about how human emotion influences logic, using such an emotionally charged example is just poor form.

 

Another thing that bothers me is that it's easy to get caught in the weeds. For example:

 

It’s one thing for me to flush a toilet without knowing how it operates, and another for me to favor (or oppose) an immigration ban without knowing what I’m talking about

 

You see, apparently there is some detailed level of knowledge about immigration bans which I must have in order to register a valid opinion. What is that level? Can I favor a ban on immigration based on principled reasons, or must I know all of the minutia?

 

There must be some way, they maintain, to convince people that vaccines are good for kids, and handguns are dangerous. (Another widespread but statistically insupportable belief they’d like to discredit is that owning a gun makes you safer.) But here they encounter the very problems they have enumerated. Providing people with accurate information doesn’t seem to help; they simply discount it. Appealing to their emotions may work better, but doing so is obviously antithetical to the goal of promoting sound science. “The challenge that remains,” they write toward the end of their book, “is to figure out how to address the tendencies that lead to false scientific belief.”

 

Of course, it's hard to argue with the above....but:

 

According to the survey, which was conducted among 1,001 Americans in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting, 36 percent of U.S. adults either own a firearm personally, or live with someone who does. That's the lowest rate of gun ownership in the CBS poll going back to 1978

So apparently over time, "people" are reducing firearm ownership.

 

Also, and you'll have to do your own sourcing for this (basically i just googled US vaccination coverage over time and looked at the CDC/WHO data) but vaccination coverage in the US has drastically increased over the last 40 years. The only relevant decrease was 2014->2015, where coverage went from 96% to 95%, but then increased to 96% again afterwards.

 

Finally, just because it is illogical to own a gun does not mean I can't. Nowhere in the article is this even mentioned. Apparently, illogical choices must be the result of some psychological or emotional influence. It is unthinkable to say "yes, owning a gun statistically increases the chance I will be involved in some violent gun crime, but I am going to purchase one anyway". Is it wrong to choose protectionist trade or immigration policies, despite knowing the potential economic, social, political costs? I'm not willing to make that claim.

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I thought this was a very interesting article:

 

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts-dont-change-our-minds

 

As everyone who’s followed the research—or even occasionally picked up a copy of Psychology Today—knows, any graduate student with a clipboard can demonstrate that reasonable-seeming people are often totally irrational.

 

Did the article change your mind about this topic?

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I'm not a fan of this discussion, and it comes up so much here because of statements from Buffett/Munger...IMO there are so many factors at work, it is so situational...it's easy to say, "ahhh of course, reason evolved to navigate group decision making, not to always remain purely logical, that is why people do XYZ."

 

This is one part of the article that bothers me:

 

If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.

 

I mean, what a jump to go from groupthink to why Trump was elected. I understand it's exaggeration for effect, but when you're writing an entire article about how human emotion influences logic, using such an emotionally charged example is just poor form.

 

Another thing that bothers me is that it's easy to get caught in the weeds. For example:

 

It’s one thing for me to flush a toilet without knowing how it operates, and another for me to favor (or oppose) an immigration ban without knowing what I’m talking about

 

You see, apparently there is some detailed level of knowledge about immigration bans which I must have in order to register a valid opinion. What is that level? Can I favor a ban on immigration based on principled reasons, or must I know all of the minutia?

 

There must be some way, they maintain, to convince people that vaccines are good for kids, and handguns are dangerous. (Another widespread but statistically insupportable belief they’d like to discredit is that owning a gun makes you safer.) But here they encounter the very problems they have enumerated. Providing people with accurate information doesn’t seem to help; they simply discount it. Appealing to their emotions may work better, but doing so is obviously antithetical to the goal of promoting sound science. “The challenge that remains,” they write toward the end of their book, “is to figure out how to address the tendencies that lead to false scientific belief.”

 

Of course, it's hard to argue with the above....but:

 

According to the survey, which was conducted among 1,001 Americans in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting, 36 percent of U.S. adults either own a firearm personally, or live with someone who does. That's the lowest rate of gun ownership in the CBS poll going back to 1978

So apparently over time, "people" are reducing firearm ownership.

 

Also, and you'll have to do your own sourcing for this (basically i just googled US vaccination coverage over time and looked at the CDC/WHO data) but vaccination coverage in the US has drastically increased over the last 40 years. The only relevant decrease was 2014->2015, where coverage went from 96% to 95%, but then increased to 96% again afterwards.

 

Finally, just because it is illogical to own a gun does not mean I can't. Nowhere in the article is this even mentioned. Apparently, illogical choices must be the result of some psychological or emotional influence. It is unthinkable to say "yes, owning a gun statistically increases the chance I will be involved in some violent gun crime, but I am going to purchase one anyway". Is it wrong to choose protectionist trade or immigration policies, despite knowing the potential economic, social, political costs? I'm not willing to make that claim.

 

Did it ever occur to you that optimizing for safety might not be everyone's priority wrt the gun issue?  If you wanted to optimize for safety entirely you could advocate building jail cells for everyone and having the government bring you food (not too hot so you don't burn yourself) and never let you see any other human being (who could decide to hurt you at any moment. Those other humans are just completely unpredictable).

 

Some people, myself included, would rather deal with too much freedom than too little.  I have no desire to be 100% perfectly safe.  I don't want to live in a world where someone tells me what I can't own, what I can't eat, what I can't inject into my veins, what I can't drive, what I can't sell, what I can't buy, what I can't manufacture, what I can't carry on my person.  I find it funny that someone will say owning a gun is dangerous, yet will go out jogging or bicycling every day.  I can tell you that in US today, you are far more likely to get hit by a car while jogging then you are to die by your own firearm.  Or people are concerned that their children will become safe crackers and get to their guns and hurt themselves, yet they have a swimming pool in the back yard.  If your guns are properly stored you children are far more likely to die in your swimming pool then they are to get hurt by your firearms.  Actually your children are far more likely to die in your car then by your firearms.  People optimize for safety when it suits their political agenda and they are reckless and do far more dangerous activities when it doesn't.

 

Also many studies which come to the conclusion that guns are a danger to the people who own them rely on suicide statistics to make the case.  Many gun owners do rationally ignore such statistics because they do not apply to them.  I can tell you that I have a zero percent chance of committing suicide with my firearms.  Someone who has struggled with depression their whole lives might want to evaluate things differently.

 

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Did it ever occur to you that optimizing for safety might not be everyone's priority wrt the gun issue?  If you wanted to optimize for safety entirely you could advocate building jail cells for everyone and having the government bring you food (not too hot so you don't burn yourself) and never let you see any other human being (who could decide to hurt you at any moment. Those other humans are just completely unpredictable).

 

Pretty sure I was making this point (at least regarding gun ownership)...not sure why u are disagreeing with me. Although I mixed 2 words up so maybe it confused you.  ;D

 

Finally, just because it is illogical to own a gun does not mean I can't. Nowhere in the article is this even mentioned. Apparently, illogical choices must be the result of some psychological or emotional influence. Is it** unthinkable to say "yes, owning a gun statistically increases the chance I will be involved in some violent gun crime, but I am going to purchase one anyway". Is it wrong to choose protectionist trade or immigration policies, despite knowing the potential economic, social, political costs? I'm not willing to make that claim.

 

Vaccines on the other hand should be mandatory. You're exposing your both your child and others to serious illness or death by not vaccinating your kids. The difference with a gun is that, you exert a level of control over having a gun. You choose not to pull the trigger, essentially. With communicable illness, you can't choose not to infect someone with measles, for instance.

 

 

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Did it ever occur to you that optimizing for safety might not be everyone's priority wrt the gun issue?  If you wanted to optimize for safety entirely you could advocate building jail cells for everyone and having the government bring you food (not too hot so you don't burn yourself) and never let you see any other human being (who could decide to hurt you at any moment. Those other humans are just completely unpredictable).

 

Pretty sure I was making this point (at least regarding gun ownership)...not sure why u are disagreeing with me. Although I mixed 2 words up so maybe it confused you.  ;D

 

Finally, just because it is illogical to own a gun does not mean I can't. Nowhere in the article is this even mentioned. Apparently, illogical choices must be the result of some psychological or emotional influence. Is it** unthinkable to say "yes, owning a gun statistically increases the chance I will be involved in some violent gun crime, but I am going to purchase one anyway". Is it wrong to choose protectionist trade or immigration policies, despite knowing the potential economic, social, political costs? I'm not willing to make that claim.

 

Vaccines on the other hand should be mandatory. You're exposing your both your child and others to serious illness or death by not vaccinating your kids. The difference with a gun is that, you exert a level of control over having a gun. You choose not to pull the trigger, essentially. With communicable illness, you can't choose not to infect someone with measles, for instance.

 

I was more disagreeing that it "is illogical to own a gun".  That really depends on what you think your own odds are of experiencing the potential negative consequences.  This calculation will be different for every individual. My point was that most who are killed by their own gun are suicides which you may feel does not apply to you; many who have children hurt or killed by their guns have them improperly stored, which you may feel does not apply to you; and many people accidentally killed by their guns were under-trained or did something incredibly stupid, which you may feel doesn't apply to you.  There are many logical reasons that you wouldn't take the raw statistics and apply them directly to your own odds.  Owning a gun is not necessarily "illogical".  On the flip side, of course, looking at crime statistics and thinking that you need a gun for protection is equally troubling, because different states/cities/towns/neighborhoods/streets have very different crime rates, you would have to look at the places that you spend your time in order to calculate your risk of becoming a victim not the crime statistics as a whole.  I'd venture to say that most gun owners who are safety conscious already avoid high crime areas.  So most responsible gun owners probably have a very low probability of negative consequences from their gun ownership, but also a much lower risk of being the victim of a crime requiring self defense then they think.

 

Vaccines is a difficult issue for me.  On the one hand I don't like being told that you have to inject your children with X, Y, and Z.  Yet on the other hand you are a complete idiot if you don't vaccinate your children.

 

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Guest cherzeca

if you are aware of tversky and kahneman's work, then you are aware that what you consider to be a fact may depend on the particular heuristic device you are using, for example representativeness or availability.  if not familiar, then lewis's book, the undoing project, is a good read

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